Thursday, September 27, 2012


A Goff post on DCU attendance offers the opportunity to check out other opinions regarding why numbers have been so far down this season.

The sampling of supporter views reflected in the comments does not lend much credence to my efforts to hang this on the gaffer.  The best I can do is stretch the "boring" complaints as popping out of the game plan.

Instead, the consensus view is the rotting corpse of a football stadium is keeping customers away.

Goff offers a series of other factors:

(1) no international stars;

(2) no need to buy tickets in advance because of large, unused capacity;

(3) high ticket prices;

(4) the deterioration of the season ticket base;

(5) unfavorable scheduling (including four games in August and no visit by the Galaxy); and

(6) budget.


But the decline in attendance in 2012 comes on the heels of an overall 4.5% increase in attendance between 2010 and 2011.  The quality of RFK didn't decline substantially since 2011.

The average attendance for the two New York Red Bulls games was 11,783... 13% below average attendance for the year.  Goff explains the low numbers for Thierry Henry's team on the Sunday and Wednesday dates, but the Wednesday game was below average for the four Wednesday games played during the season (10,581 for the season, 10,303 for the New York game).  The Red Bulls home numbers this year don't bear out the value of an international star ... their attendance in Harrison is down 13% from 2011.  Even the Galaxy's home attendance is down 3% from 2011.

Who has seen a pronounced uptick in attendance this season?  The star-studded Columbus Crew, up 18% from last year.

What team was the biggest draw for United this season?  Montreal, with 18,000+ attending for the game in June (after pulling in 10,000+ for a midweek game back in April).  Second biggest?  Kansas City (16,314 for the season opener).  Then Seattle (15,651), then New England (15,104 and 14,627).

Mid-week games pulled down season numbers.  One-quarter of the league home fixtures were played on Wednesdays -- 21.5% below the season average and 31% below the eight home games played on Saturday (averaging 15,363).  Take these games out and the season average climbs by nearly a thousand fans.  But even if you exclude midweek games, the average this year would still have been down 5% from last year.

How about marketing?  The city happened to be plastered in D.C. United advertisements at the same time as television coverage of the MLS improved tremendously.  The club deployed people to stand at metro stations and hand out flyers heralding the arrival of Paris Saint-Germain and still only drew a little over 13,000 to the friendly.

Tickets are priced high, yes.  Personally, we couldn't find people to take our unused season tickets for free and, more broadly, tickets in the various secondary markets sold well below walk-up prices.

People aren't staying away because of a lack of goals... United's averaging 2.13 goals per game at home and their 1.57 goals per game season average is the best the team's posted since 2007.

Maybe its just that the Nats (and O's) have sucked up the limelight and the spectator enthusiasm this season.  Or maybe it is everything, or nothing, or something.

Weird team.  Weird season.

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